Brand Aid covers the unique issues faced by search marketers responsible for campaigns featuring big or well-known brands. Columnists look at topics such as effective branding via search, trademark protection, “co-opitition” with affiliates, integrating search marketing with traditional brand marketing and more.

9 Clues That Your Branding Program Sucks

Sometimes it's difficult for non-marketers to reasonably gauge the overall success of branding programs, because they have neither dashboard nor perspective to use as benchmarks. This post suggests easy-to-identify measurements to serve as general indications of the marketing department’s success in building a brand (henceforth referred to as [brand]) to top of mind with the general search and social media public. We’ll follow the 9 clues with a simple questionnaire any stakeholder in [brand’s] success can forward to the marketing manager to help improve [brand's] public image. 1 [...]

5 Website Tips To Keep Your Brand Image Fresh

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and your website is no exception. To ensure that your site creates a positive impression, you need to keep it well maintained. Considering that a website is one of the most important marketing tools, marketers should be mindful that even small site issues can quickly add up and adversely affect brand perception. For instance, a poorly organized product website can frustrate users and negatively impact sales. Similarly, an informational website with stale content can drive users to get their information elsewh [...]

Protect Your Brand From Dead Affiliate Links

Direct linking is the practice where an affiliate buys paid search advertising using your URL as the display URL in an ad, yet actually linking from the ad to the affiliate's own landing page. These links will often go through multiple levels of redirects before finally landing on your web site. The redirects may contain cookies for other brand holders (a practice known as "cookie stuffing"—often generating revenue for the person doing the cookie stuffing). As bad as this practice may seem to you, it’s exacerbated when the ads don’t land anywhere—you wind up looking really ba [...]

Build Your Brand With Powerful Blogger Outreach Tactics

These days it's rare to find a brand, blogger or CEO that does not monitor his or her reputation by Google Alert or other hair trigger mechanism. Training your feed’s content-creation team to exploit this new reality for systematic blogger outreach can yield terrific results over time with very little added cost. Read on to explore powerful techniques to serve your brand’s feed readers, earn influential friends, garner links, generate buzz and drive traffic to your website. Humans do what humans do In high school I heard from a mutual acquaintance that "Joyce," a young woman I admi [...]

Achieving Paid Search Balance: 3 Reasons To Invest In Non-Branded Terms

Managing your health requires achieving a balance between diet and exercise. In the same way, a healthy paid search campaign requires achieving a balance between branded and non-branded spending. Working together, the two create an optimal mix that will help you achieve the best results possible. Why balance matters Given branded terms' reputation for delivering ROI, they often receive the lion’s share of a paid search budget. However, in this economy—where consumers are still hesitant to purchase—many marketers are not seeing the revenue from their branded terms that they [...]

Protecting Your Brand On The Online Yellow Pages

Why should you care about Online Yellow Pages when Google is most likely your primary source of traffic and ROI? The simple answer is because local search is on the rise, and with it so are opportunities for other advertisers to exploit your corporate name or brand, possibly to your detriment. Lets take a look at some of the potential glaring brand issues that can exist on yellow page search results: Your own resellers and/or affiliates can promote conflicting offers. Too many ads for yourself repeating on a page. This leads to consumer confusion about available offers and where to c [...]

Use Transient PPC Campaigns To Support Branding Efforts

In today’s real-time brand management world, separate teams often control strategy and channel tactics for SEO, PPC, public relations, online reputation management and social media. In many cases, however, out-of-box thinking and creative silo-breaking to cross traditional boundaries can yield sweet marketing fruit. Today I'm going to explore the systematic use of paid channels like AdWords and Facebook ads as channels for intervening in quickly moving public relations incidents. Ads can play an important role as powerful tools for supporting the usual tactics of social media and reputat [...]

Five Tips To Avoid Getting Burned When Starting Social Media Campaigns

If you're not already tapping into social media, you should, as the channel offers brands tremendous opportunities to foster community and engagement. But many marketers jump into social media efforts with little more than a "cool" idea. This is a mistake. Not only could it pose serious implications for a brand, but it could also obliterate the value you sought to derive from social media in the first place. To effectively leverage social media, you first need to devise a plan. Here are five tips to help you get started. Develop your vision. Get creative and develop a vision of what your br [...]

Managing Your Brand To Perform In Universal Search Results

Achieving and sustaining top ranking visibility for your brand on important organic terms is increasingly getting tougher. This is because natural text listings no longer rule on the search result page. There are many other elements that appear sometimes ahead of or intertwined with the natural results, including local listings with a map, shopping listings, latest news, top blogs, images, videos and even book reviews can appear. Google calls these mixed result types Universal search; others call it blended search. These other elements can push what were once top performing organic listings [...]

Think Search Before You Name Your Next Product

When naming products, it's always prudent to investigate potential online marketing challenges and pitfalls before launch. Failure to do so may preemptively damage your marketing team’s ability to cast an appropriate branding net. Traditionally due diligence surrounding the naming process involved trademark search, category and creative considerations. Now that’s no longer enough. Crucial naming decisions must also include rigorous SEO, social, reputation and paid search analysis. Here’s a checklist of factors to take into consideration to assure your product name is search-friendly [...]

Search, Video & Your Brand: Hello YouTube!

I often write about what you can do to protect your brands when it comes to the major search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. But did you know that the second most popular search engine today is YouTube? (according to Hitwise, ranking ahead of Yahoo search). You can buy self-service advertising on YouTube through its "promoted videos" advertising system, which is great and easy to use. Beware, however: if you are trying to protect your brand, "promoted videos" can seem like the wild west revisited. Ads run on YouTube in much the same way as they do on the text based search engines. On t [...]

Using Classic PR Techniques To Support Brands In Social Networks

Marketers nearly all agree that properly published recurrent content feeds, pumped into  social channels and Google's index, serve SEO, branding and public relations stakeholders alike. Social media channels are huge: 300 million people use Facebook and Twitter alone. Figuring out how to share content and be a good citizen in these networks is easy. Techniques for building distribution networks can be also be quickly mastered. That said, sourcing existing business communications, to facilitate the transition from "traditional" brand PR to social PR, requires planning, guile, guts, commitm [...]

Brand Building Through Search & Social Media

A company's brand is its cornerstone. Given that, building your brand requires a balance of marketing efforts across various channels. Fortunately, search and social media are great ways to build your brand today. Social media's role in branding More than ever before, a company's brand is influenced by what consumers are saying about it online. Blogs, search engines, and social media sites have a strong impact on public opinion. Unlike the past where marketers could push their brand messages to consumers, the control has flipped and consumers are actually driving the opinion of brands. C [...]

The Affiliate Industry Strives To Clean Up Its Act

Unfortunately, affiliates do not always abide by the rules and requirements of your program.  For example, you may specifically prohibit keyword sponsorship of your best terms or your brand terms. You may look to keep your affiliates from co-promoting you alongside of your competitor(s) on the same landing page, you may have restrictions on paid search regarding rank, or you may have restrictions on ad copy (e.g. affiliates cannot use the phrase "official site" or make superfluous claims about your product).   These terms may be explicitly defined in your affiliate agreement, but regardless [...]

7 Tips To Boost Brand Reputation In Search Via Corporate Responsibility

Despite the economic quagmire we're in, consumers' brand expectations are up - especially when it comes to corporate responsibility. Given that, marketers should capitalize on these expectations by leveraging their corporate responsibility initiatives as a means to boost brand reputation in the search results. Why you should care In slower economic periods such as we're experiencing now, corporations have a responsibility to consumers to set the standards of conscientious decision-making and giving. And while some stakeholders may question the benefits of the time and money spent on corp [...]

Has Google’s New Trademark Policy Caused A Spike In Use?

As you may know, Google recently loosened its policy in the USA related to the use of trademarks in ad copy text, which went into effect on June 15, 2009. The big question is: has this change resulted in an increase in trademark use? The answer is yes. The Search Monitor tracks and monitors trademark sponsorship and use in ad copy across all of the major search engines for brand holders. We recently conducted a study to determine the impact of these recent trademark policy changes. The results indicate that there has been an increase in trademark use across all of the major search engines. [...]

5 SEO Tips For Nabbing International Search Real Estate

Though the housing market continues to plummet in the United States, "real estate" on the search results page is as competitive as ever as marketers try to nab as much as possible.   But accomplishing this in foreign markets can be challenging. For example, even if you have a dot-com version of your website that ranks well for branded terms in foreign markets, you could still be losing out on a lot of traffic because it can only occupy two places in the search results, and the balance is usually comprised of fan sites or Wiki type websites. But what if there was a way to occupy more searc [...]

Display URL: Traffic Tricks Used By Brand Hijackers

The display URL is the part of your ad copy text that tells consumers where they will go if they click on your ad. Therefore, it is a very important tool for branding yourself, as it is how consumers will recognize you in list of sponsored results. Each of the major search providers typically enforces the following rules with regard to the format of display URLs: The top level domain of the display URL must match the top level domain of the ultimate landing page (excluding redirections e.g. for tracking URLs). The display url can be a sub-domain e.g. '' T [...]

PPC Recession Strategy: 7 Reasons To Keep Bidding On Your Brand Terms

When faced with budget cuts, many marketers stop bidding on their brand and trademark terms.  But doing so is a mistake.  While it may be a quick and easy way to limit spend, it can negatively impact overall campaign performance. To achieve the greatest return from a search engine marketing campaign, most brand owners should bid on their brand and trademark terms.  Below are seven reasons to keep bidding on them through this recession. Reason #1: When you enter the auction for your brand and trademark terms, you control the marketing message that searchers see. If you are not in the auct [...]

How To Protect Your Brand Under Google’s New Trademark Policies

If you are a Google Adwords customer you may have read that the Adwords' trademark enforcement policies are going through a big change which will impact the control that you have over use of your brands on paid search.  The new policies will impact you starting on June 4th and June 15th, 2009. Earlier this week, Brad Geddes discussed the changes and how they would impact ecommerce sites and affiliates. Today, I want to focus on brand owners, offering cautions and recommendations to make sure you fully protect your brands when the changes take effect. When it comes to trademarks, there a [...]

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